I had a hard time knowing what to call this ... poached barley seems to be the best description, but it could just as easily have been barley risotto. This is a fabulous wholefood accompaniment to lamb stew (I made one last night with the end of a joint of lamb from the weekend, with three times as much onion as meat). It's also good alone, if you make it with good stock.
Now I don't know about you, but I have a bit of a horror of the idea of wholefoods as a concept. It puts me in mind of the 70s - brown food and unkempt beards. And yet I love many of the ingredients that are covered by the word wholefood.
Barley is a case in point - it's one of those underrated ingredients that tend to be ignored by most of us. Certainly it's years since I've cooked it. At school we were given a rather grey lamb stew made with scrag end of neck eked out with lots of flabby barley. (Why did they call it pearl barley?) So, above all, I wanted to avoid overcooking it. And even though it's about as cheap as food gets, I wanted to treat it with care and attention. I've overcome the brown look, taste and texture by chopping in a huge handful of herbs at the end ... yum.
Poached barley with herbs
Marsala or other wine
A big handful of herbs
I used a handful of barley per person (it enlarges with cooking, but not alarmingly so), then stirred it around my risotto pan in a little olive oil, exactly as if I was making risotto. When it was nearly sticking, I splashed in a glug of Marsala to loosen it. Then chicken stock to cover. I simmered this for half an hour, without covering, and stirred it from time to time, although no need to stand close by as if making risotto. I topped up the stock after a while, but this is emphatically not a little-and-often topping up as for risotto - this is more of an oops, should have put in more in the first place.
After half an hour, I took it off the heat and let it stand for nearly an hour. I did this mainly for my own convenience, but it had the effect of allowing the grains to absorb more stock without overcooking. Then I reheated it for 10-15 minutes. At this point I chopped in a huge handful of chopped herbs, what I could find in the garden ... parsley, sage, tarragon, a tiny bit of oregano, chives. Rosemary would have been good too, but I didn't think of it as I passed the bush.
Really good; springy grains sweet with the flavours of the stock and the wine, given piquancy by the last of the summer herbs.
Even uitproberen, de micro brouwerij Ratsherrn en restaurant Altes Mädchen  - Er komen vrienden volgend weekend, gezellig! Moeten we natuurlijk even wat dingen uitproberen, ik lust niet zo graag bier maar deze microbrouwerij + rest...
13 hours ago